Regulation, Regulation, Regulation! The Coalition Government, Employment and the Law of Unintended Consequences

The Government is very worked up at present about regulation.

I dislike red tape. I think it is laudable that we should seek to regulate sensibly and proportionately.

But there’s not a lot of joined-up thinking going on. 2e77d618a09dfebea0_ojm6bne9p

So, in the midst of a set of Employment Law and Tribunal reforms that unashamedly aim to reduce the number of people bringing claims in respect of their employment rights to Tribunals, we see some bizarre anomalies:

On 29th July the Employment Tribunal fee regime begins – we have blogged about it before, but now we are getting to grips with the detail of what the scheme will mean in practice. The rules and regulations are, in short, a nightmare. You may have to pay a fee. You may be exempt from fees. You may have disposable monthly income at a level that means you get partial remission from fees. You will have to complete endless forms and supply endless evidence to show just where your disposable monthly income falls. The public will be confused. Lawyers will ask, “who will pay us to fill in these new forms?”

And if a Claimant gets it wrong, chances are they might lose altogether their chance to enforce the rights that successive Governments have been so keen to trumpet on their behalf.

To our astonishment, the Government is pushing ahead with the idea of “selling” your employment rights in exchange for shares on the commencement of employment. The devil is again in the detail – the hoops through which employer and employee will need to jump, to qualify under the new scheme, are an exercise in how not to do red tape and regulation. As a matter of principle, it can’t be right that you might have to sell your rights to get employment. But in practice we tend to think that very few people are going to bother – it is more trouble than it is worth.

Also from 29th July we have a complete overhaul of the Employment Tribunal rules of procedure. Not more regulation, necessarily, but certainly a sea change to existing regulation – and the two are pretty much the same thing. Time to learn a new set of rules and procedures.

None of these changes were necessary. In our view none of them are desirable. All of them add directly and/or indirectly to the burden of red tape both as it affects individuals and as it affects businesses.

Here we see the law in practice – and in this case, it is the law of unintended consequences.

Our Legal Correspondent

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